What Is the Average Salary for a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor?

Drug and alcohol addiction counselors work in outpatient or residential facilities, hospitals or schools to help people overcome their dependencies. Find out about education and licensing requirements, employment options and salary ranges. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Much Can I Make as a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counselor?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median salary for substance abuse and behavior counselors, as of May 2010, was $38,120 (www.bls.gov). The 10th percentile earned $24,690 and the 90th percentile earned $60,400. The highest paying location for addiction counselors was New Jersey with an average annual wage of $57,760. Hawaii, Wisconsin, Maine and Alaska were also among the top five highest paying states.

Where Should I Look for Work?

The BLS reported, as of May 2010, outpatient rehab centers have the highest concentration of counselors in the country. Other industries with high employment numbers for addiction counselors included residential mental health and substance abuse facilities, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse hospitals and residential care facilities. States with the highest employment levels for this career include California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida.

The top paying industry was elementary and secondary schools with an average annual wage of $59,610. The other top paying industries included colleges, universities, scientific research and development services, general medical and surgical hospitals, professional schools, civic organizations and social organizations.

How Can I Become a Counselor?

Each state has different licensing and credentialing requirements, which may include earning a master's degree in substance abuse or drug and alcohol abuse counseling. These programs cover topics related to mental health and substance abuse. You may learn how to understand through psychology and anatomy how drugs and addiction affect a person. You may also study drug and alcohol use in relation to family structures, violence, ethnicity and economic standing. You may also learn counseling strategies for working with addicts and their families. A master's program includes a clinical, which prepares you for certification and for working with real patients.

The National Counselor Examination, offered through the National Board for Certified Counselors, is sometimes used by state agencies for credentialing (www.nbcc.org). This exam also prepares you to take the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors. The Association for Addiction Professionals offers additional certifications (www.naadac.org).

What Is the Career Outlook?

The BLS estimates from 2008-2018, a growth of 21% in the employment opportunities for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. This increase means an estimated 18,100 additional positions in this field. This may be due to the increase in court rulings mandating drug rehabilitation in lieu of jail.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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